Recovery meetings often have moments that are unforgettable. There is raw emotion, the honesty, the unusual nature of some things, the "God" moments, and those moments when you just wonder, what was that?
This week we have been talking about two related topics, The Disconnect and The Connect. The overall point is that disconnection is one of the main drivers of addiction and many other unfortunate situations. When given a life of connection, where we have close relationships with family, friends and others, when we have meaning of purpose overall, we thrive and are way less likely to do destructive things.
So in one very special meeting with eight young people (all under 30), it was a challenge to deal with a very, very short attention span, but it was going along quite well. I showed a video that you may wish to view (Everything You Thought You Knew About Addiction Is Wrong - Ted Talk) and their response was great.
To further add a personal twist on connection, I spoke about how when I came to the Lord, that blood he shed for me entered my veins and began to immediately connect and re-connect me to God and the human race that I was disconnected from. One of the people there said, "yes, I understand, it was a lot like that Zombie movie where he was injected with a special blood serum and came back to life."
This began to spark a conversation about Zombie movies among them in which they all participated in fervently. I thought about interrupting and getting back to to the topic, but quickly realized this was the topic in a strange sort of way. After about five minutes of just observing, I said, "You guys just proved the point, when we are connected we all feel excited and relevant".
It was a spectacular meeting, and ended with them opening up about the disconnections that had led them to where they are now. Jesus And Zombies seemed to be a very unusual mix, but in this case it helped connect the dots of relationship.
May we never forget that God can use anything to make his point, even if that is not how we intended it to be!
Before I entered Marine Corps boot camp I saw the Movie "The D.I." starring Jack Webb (Dragnet fame.) One of the scenes that stuck with me, especially on the front line in Viet Nam, was critical to the lives of ourselves and others we share life with.
In the scene, the Marines are deployed in an ambush position and told to be so quiet that you do not endanger your own life and those of your brothers by making any sort of noise that may let the enemy know you are there. One of the recruits has a mosquito land on his face, and after some time begins to itch, then swats the mosquito.
The D.I. (Drill Instructor) jumps all over him and says, "You're dead Private Owen, we're all dead". Translated into today's language of addiction, if we scratch that urge that is taunting us, use that drug of choice, it not only may kill or endanger us, but also the lives of our fellow recovering people, and our friends.
To fully comprehend this, we must come to the realization that this is indeed our life to live, but it is not all about us. We cannot be the god of our lives, and we are here to love and encourage others by who we are and how we can also serve them in a positive way. We reflect our God while we also reflect our country when we serve.
In a classic biblical example, the Levites were moving the ark of God (containing the new scroll 10 Commandments) back to Israel at the orders of King David. This was meant to be a celebratory return, but there was a catch. No one was to touch the ark with its holy things in it under penalty of death, (Numbers 4:15 - But they must not touch the holy things or they will die) When it was carried, it was hauled with poles inserted into rings attached to the ark. In this case it was hauled on a cart by oxen before unloading.
When the oxen hauling the cart with the ark stumbled, a man named Uzzah reached out to steady it (or fix it in updated terms.) He was struck down and died on the spot. Translated into today's words, Don't Swat The Mosquito just because it itches, or don't fix something yourself when it requires divine instruction.
In the case of recovering from addiction, we must understand that only divine intervention and instruction can make the difference between life and death, as God and the D.I. tried to tell us what was required to live. I mentioned the D.I. and God in the same sentence using the word divine because what he taught me saved my life, and so did what He taught me.
We can choose to Swat The Mosquito or live to fight another day. Having an itch is much better than losing a life.
We've had a lot of fun using this story in past meetings. My favorite part is getting to role play the mannerisms of the Prairie Chicken. But on Tuesday night they asked me to do an encore on the Eagle, and it compelled me to share these stories in the blog. I realize the impact may be much greater in person, but may the good Lord let this bring much joy to your heart none the less.
One day an Indian had gone on a nature walk, and he spotted an Eagle's egg that had been misplaced, laying just out of reach of its nest where the young brave could put it back. So he took it back home with him and put it into the nest of a Prairie Chicken. When it hatched, the Eagle was raised by those Prairie Chickens, and throughout his life thought he was in fact, a Prairie Chicken.
The Prairie Chickens rarely lifted their heads as they ate worms and grubs (leftovers) off the ground as they bucked and plucked continuously throughout the days. (To make this story a little more real, just stand up please and emulate a bucking and plucking PC for just a few seconds and it will make you feel part of this.)
One day that Eagle who thought he was a PC lifted his head and saw this majestic bird soaring high above and and remarked, "Man I wish I could fly like that." One of the PC's replied, "Yeah, that's an Eagle, but you are a Prairie Chicken, and always will be." So the Eagle who thought he was a PC lived his life like a PC and died thinking that was all he was.
Our point, God made us to be Eagles (Isaiah 40:30-31 as an example), but to do so we have to quit hanging around Prairies Chickens that keep us from soaring as he intended us to do. Our addictions have become those PCs who have held us back from realizing our full potential of life.
So, as we did in those meetings where this story was shared, you must repeat after me, and also many times to yourself this week:
I ain't no Prairie Chicken, I'm an Eagle! Makes you feel a whole lot better about God's vision for your life. We are worth way more than leftovers.
It is always special to do work for this amazing God we serve, as well as a privilege and honor. There is never a time when I have said "God you have given me too much" because he has given me way beyond too much in my life. That said, this week was a challenge.
For the second week in a row we did seven meetings which definitely required some creative thinking. I had to pull a couple out of the archives and experienced all sorts of different emotions with each meeting. From a meeting with three to one with 40, there was laughter, tears and a lot of raw honesty. But there was one quite different than the others........
That was the one where one of the residents had OD'd on heroin and died overnight. I came into a room of hurting roommates, people questioning what they could have done, those recounting their last conversations with him and those hurting for his two children. It was hard, it was what we call cunning and baffling, but it was the reality of addiction. You just never know, unless...
You take the time to include God as a part of recovery and your life because only with his help can we destroy the demons who work between our ears. Those voices that tell us there is nothing but darkness need to know God has an answer of light. Not me, not you, but only God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
These latest addictive drugs are darkness. There is nothing but bad results. As parents, friends, and peers, we need to fight through this together with God's help, or we have no chance. It is a rapacious creditor with no hope in its future, but human bankruptcy once it begins as an outcome.
Don't stop talking to your kids. Don't give up on anyone. Keep going because you may be the only light they see. You don't want to get the call like this young man's parents did, and, though we cannot make decisions for another, we can influence them by being shining stars of that light that overcomes darkness.
We continue to press on because that light has saved our lives and our souls!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.